Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Modeling - HMS Victory - first step.

Where do I begin?  To start off with, I got a gift from my husband for Christmas.  It's a model set of the HMS Victory - over 2000 pieces.  I was so excited.  I've always wanted to do modeling and this was going to be a perfect project.  I've dabbled in it before with an HO scale train set and that was before I knew what I was doing and all.  Anyway, I bought myself a work table and set it all up and was ready to go.  My husband explained to me that the instructions were in French.   Yes, the language!  No, I do not speak or understand it!  The guy at the store had said that we could download the English instructions online.  Very funny indeed and Merry Christmas to you too!  No, an hour of searching for instructions, and all I came up with was a company that was out of business and the instructions that looked like the picture on the left.

Yes, I felt a bit disheartened, but then I got on Google translate and slowly worked my way to step 1.  I'm also using an app called Word Lens and I have a start.  So, here's step number one on the right.  Oh!  I could take a picture of what the finished ship is supposed to look like, but I thought I would try to blog while I modeled.  Perhaps my ship can grow with this blog and I'm hoping you guys encourage me through this process.

I'm supposed to take the ship and paint certain areas of deck 1 and 2.  As you'll see in the pictures, I've painted them green.  It's supposed to be light green but oh well, life goes on.

There were these windows that needed to get the ends of them painted and so here's what this looks like.  It was not easy painting these windows, let me tell you.  I know they are not exact, but it's as good as I can get it.  Steady hands come in handy, but it's still hard.  This project is going to teach me a lot of patience and I'm learning when to stop and when to say, good enough is good enough.  I had one more picture, the one before I painted the windows.  I will try to post it at some point.

Oh, my next assignment involves loops.  Yes, loops.  I have to make loops out of string and run them through the small dots near the painted areas on levels 1 and 2.  I have to figure out the French exactly so I can follow the instructions accurately.  It involves cardboard and that's all I know.  Still working it all out.  Hang in there with me and as I get closer to this project and get through steps, I'll post.  You guys can tell me that I'm crazy, but this is my idea of a great time.  I'm loving it so far, French and all.

Best wishes as always,

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Trans Siberian Orchestra (TSO)

Am I old?  Or am I old?  I don't know.  When I was offered 2 tickets to the TSO, I thought, "orchestra!  Yay!"  So, I thought.  When I think of an orchestra, I was thinking in terms of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra or perhaps the Boston Symphony Pops.  No, I did not think 'concert'.  Should I have?  My husband told me that the show would not be like a traditional orchestra.  He said that it would be altered.  He didn't know either, that altered really meant, completely twisted upside down, with the elimination of clear musical sounds.  It basically meant loud electric guitars, drums (no offense to the instrument), high amps of sound and what you get is just that - loud sounds.  The musical element was missing.
I personally feel old because the loud concert sound seems like a generational thing.  A generation with a screaming mess in their heads and this is how they express it.  They can't discern what the issue is.  They just want to express the bombs going off in their heads in the form of music and that's what a concert essentially is.  Again, I'm old because I long for the olden days when music was better and I'm sure this generation will long for the days of the TSO when they would think this music was infinity better than what would be playing at that time.  I don't even want to go there.  May the Lord spare me from the concerts of the future!
Anyway, back to this post.  I've been learning to play the violin for several years now and I'm horrible at it.  The instrument however is something I understand.  I know what it takes to make a sound and I know how hard it is to play certain pieces and more importantly I do recognize and love the sound of the violin.  Well, they had one woman playing the electric violin.  I have heard a live electric violin before and when played tastefully it sounds brilliant.  This was not that.  This was myself, trying really hard to discern the sound of my favorite instrument and match it with the player.  How could I when every sound was blasting so loudly from every corner?  Which was which instrument?
A bit off track, but there's a couple of reasons for this, I will talk about my experience in playing with the Town and Country Symphony Orchestra here in my neighborhood.  In my attempts to become a better player I joined this orchestra and I played second violin.  I wasn't very good and my schedule was just too tight for me to continue, but I played a whole season with them.  One of the musical pieces we played was the L' Arlesienne suite (don't recall the spelling).  If you've heard this piece of music, it's spectacular when played by an orchestra.  When you heard the TSO play it, you know how to take the most charming orchestral pieces and ruin it.  I recognized the music and I'll give them that much credit but by amping it up so much and adding all the other unnecessary instruments and clouding the melody, I was disappointed.  I guess, I've never been one for remakes of originals, so this was not my cup of tea.  Although, I feel myself craving the need to hear the original L'Arlesienne suite again!
I know I've been dissing this concert I went to, but I'm not completely right.  I enjoyed about 20% of their concert.  When I realized it was a concert, I could sit back and wait for moments that I could connect with.  What  did I enjoy?  There were some slow songs there not riddled with a million instruments, and you could make out the words and the emotions of the songs and that was nice.  What else?  The story in the form of letters was very sweet.  The piano piece at the end was very good.  I did feel it was a bit loud but it was brilliant.
I must mention the spectacular lights and the controlled fires they had going.  If you had a fountain, and you controlled where the water went, except this wasn't water but fire, then you would see what we saw.  Gas burners suddenly light up and shoot a flame across and then the flame almost dives into the air and disappears.  There were several at one time and that was truly wonderful.  I wish they didn't have as much loud music to accompany it.  I wish they had just enough to enhance the special effect.
They had laser lights going all over.  The light show element of it was very good.
That made 2 concerts this year.  Both were not on my original agenda, but I just happened to get invited to them.  I think I'm a bit too old for concerts.  I feel bad for the original people who were supposed to go who couldn't make it.  They might have enjoyed it a lot more, but as for me, I will stick to musicals and theatre and live shows, rather than head banging, screaming concerts.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Learning to write

I'm in love.  Life is rosy.  It's difficult to juggle two marriages simultaneously and nurture both equally, but I'm managing.  Love calls for it.  Funny thing is that my husband approves of my second marriage.  In fact, he encourages me to spend more time there.  It doesn't get better than that.  Can it?  If I were to say there's some trouble in paradise, given the situation, one would think, of course.  How do you manage to juggle two marriages?  Is that even legal?  Well, I'm Muslim, although being a Muslim woman, that's a whole different story, and I've effectively managed to digress again, but back to my story.
I think I've pretty much given you everything you need to know about my second husband.  It's my writing.  One can argue that he is truly my first husband and my husband that came from a wedding ceremony is technically my second husband and we are not going to talk about my earlier divorce or I would be quite confused with keeping track.  Wow!  For a minute, my life sounds absolutely spectacular, I want to be in it, but it's not what it seems.
There is trouble in paradise and it's not with my legal husband.  It's this other guy.  My writing!  He comes and goes as he pleases and sometimes treats me poorly.  The worst part.  He's not faithful.  He spends more time with others and gives them gifts and leaves me empty handed at times.  I will say that he's been more responsive since I have started this blog.  I have gotten some action (if you know what I mean), but ahhhh how do I get more?
Humans are inherently competitive and I know I'm not supposed to compare myself to anyone, but I can't help it.  I see several people write and their work flows.  When I say flows, it's smooth, like milk poured on a table top with no boundaries.  It's not like my raging river that ebbs and flows and jumps and then suddenly dries up at the shore and it's just a mess.
I read other's works and it's so eloquent and I come back to mine and wonder what happened?  My english teachers would be sorely disappointed.  It's not just about getting a bout of creativity.  I've noticed my language structure dwindle even in the presence of inspiration.  Here I go again, comparing my work to someone else's.  I feel less than myself.   I must remember the post I wrote called, "Mine!  Mine!  Mine!" and let my second husband be the way he is.  He is mine and he may not treat me the same way as he does the others, but he's still mine.  He treats me differently and that makes me special in my own right.
As the new year is coming up, I really shouldn't muse about my writing deficiencies or fallbacks.  It's time to move forward.  Onward to better blog posts, or at least attempt at better ones.
I hope you all have happy holidays and will see you next time.

Christmas spirit

I just read a cool article by a Muslim guy who talked about how much he loved Christmas and everything about it.  He talked about how all we Muslims had was Ramadhan and while it's spiritual and peaceful, it's not "fun".  He talked about how he loved all the Christmas lights and how the trip to the post office was fun because they would drive by houses with all the bright lights and it would be something special.  I did not even consider writing a blog about that but then again I always think and wish Muslims lit up their homes for Ramadhan.  It would symbolize Ramadhan.

In case you think I'm copying the idea of Christmas lights, let me tell you where my idea originated from.  Over 20 years ago, when I lived in Dubai (a Muslim country), my parents had a string of lights that we put up around the one tree in our front yard.  I can't remember when it became tradition, but I think it was when our family members mentioned that it was a great idea to have those lights up for Ramadhan.  Here I am in America now and lights are tradition for Christmas and only Christmas!  If someone puts up lights at any other season, I know the usual comment is, "it's too early for Christmas".  I, on the other hand crave for a time when every Muslim would put up lights for the whole month of Ramadhan.  That would, I think, make a statement.  I feel, it would make Ramadhan more special than it already is to Muslims.  It would also give Muslims some identity as Ramadhan is not secular and not everyone celebrates it.

Speaking of lights, I will say the best lights on a home I have seen ever is not on any home I've seen in the US.  It was a house in Dubai, for a month or so starting with their house warming.  This whole house was lit up.  Whole house.  I wonder how they walked through the door without having to move the strings of lights hanging down.

I do digress.  The truth is that I too love Christmas and the tunes that go with it.  It fills you with warmth and happiness like no other season does.  I go through Ramadhan.  There are days I'm filled with peace but then there are times I'm not.  Ramadhan in the summer is quite hard, I'll admit it.  I was talking to a friend of mine and she said the same thing.  She said she was not able to get into the spirit of Ramadhan with the heat and the fasting.  Most Muslims would consider this post sacriligious but I wonder.  Why is it that Christmas is so much more fun?  Can Ramadhan compete?  Should there even be a festival like Christmas in Islam?

I feel that Christmas is a secular holiday and not religious anymore.  I know of families who celebrate Christmas but dislike Christians and do not go to the Church.  They celebrate because it's just what you do.  In my neighborhood there are 2 homes from Hindu families who have Christmas lights out.  No, they are not changing religions.  Christmas no longer belongs to any religion.  Christmas is about gifts, giving and receiving.  The funny thing, however, about Christmas is the spirit of the season.

Kids are off from school.  That makes them inherently happy.  Give them gifts and increase their happiness.  Also, it's the holiday season, where a lot of families go on vacation.  It's a break time.  Who doesn't love a break?  Most people are super happy with the break and time off that wherever you go people are happy and happiness is infectious.  This season becomes a giant big happy infection.  It's a pandemic, is what it is.  You can't help but smile back at someone who is smiling at you, irrespective of religion.

Can Ramadhan compete?  No.  Not in this country.  As long as we don't have a national holiday for Eid, how can Ramadhan compete?  Christmas is a national holiday!  You could argue that it's religious prejudice.  Why does everyone have off for Christmas?  Why can't Eid or Hanukkah be a national holiday?  Then we all would celebrate it and embrace it.  It would be synonymous with a break, and don't we all love breaks?

The last question that I asked was if there should be something like Christmas in Islam and answering this would be going against the highest power of all, God!  If I'm a true Muslim and I believe Islam is the way then I should not question what God has ordained for me or not ordained for me.  If I do not have a "fun" religious holiday, I can't go up to God and ask, "how about giving us a fun holiday?"  It's just not Kosher, oooop, sorry, I meant Halal!  I know there are Muslims who complain about copying Christmas traditions and yet we try to with Eid gifts and all.  I don't know.  Sometimes, I think it would be good to be an original, but then again, the fun of Christmas is something that is worthy of copying.  What do I know?  I only sit here and type my random thoughts, waiting for the one day when my blog readership explodes.  Still waiting.


Monday, December 22, 2014

The introvert disguised as an extrovert!

Most people who have known me would say I were an extrovert.  So much so that I would say so myself.  Why not?  I love being with people and being at family parties and having a gala time.  A year ago, I was tested.  I did the Myers-Brigg.  I had to answer a series of questions and then I had a trained MB coach to go over my results.  I don't recall the other categories, but I clearly remember the E or the I.  I was an introvert.

My coach asked me if I felt the results were accurate.  I stated that the other categories seemed correct.  I was convinced, however, that I was an extrovert and the results were wrong!  She told me that the results are just a marker and that is why we had the interview to decide on whether I was what the test result came out to be.

She asked me why I felt I was an extrovert.  I explained about how I loved to be around people and how loud I was and how I was the life of the parties with my family.  Clearly, I was an extrovert and the results were wrong.  She listened and told me that when people take the test, they fall on a scale.  Say 1 - 10, where if they were say 7 and above, they would be an extrovert, 3 and below an introvert and a 3 to 7 would be a range where they could be either.  It's the center of both.  I'm just mentioning it for sake of explanation.  Yes, there's a scale in MB but it's a range.  It's not a definitive number like I talked about.  She explained to me that I was not in the center range.  She stated that I was very much preferentially an introvert.  She said that based on the tests, I was not even close to being an extrovert.

That blew my mind and deflated my balloon at the same time, if it's possible.  One, I was confused about the results.  Two, deep down I have been told over and over that I was an extrovert, I identified with it.  I felt like I did not want to be one of "those" people.  Not one of those introverts!  Being an introvert, was a bad thing in my book.  Introverts are socially inept and are loners, or so I felt.

I continued to talk to her and she asked me not to freak out.  We could discuss this further.  She asked me more questions.  I don't totally recall the questions she asked me but the way I understood it was totally different from what I had known.  It all boiled down to energy.  Where an introvert and an extrovert gets their energy?  When asked what I preferred to do when I was very tired, I said, I would like to sit in silence and either read or write a book with a cup of tea.  She said, "there you go!  introvert!"  Huh?  She said it wasn't a person's ability to be with people that made someone an introvert or an extrovert, it's a matter of where one gets their energy.  Is it from hanging out with a lot of people or is it from being with very few people?

I understand myself better now.  I understand my frustration in meeting a lot of new people all at the same time.  I understand my stress of having to perform like I'm an extrovert when I'm really an introvert.  I understand why I dissect movies and stories and tend to be philosophical.  I used to feel something was wrong with me.  Friends would tell me to let the movie go.  It was just a  movie.  No!  It was more to me.  I had to process it for long periods of time and there was nothing wrong with that.

Funny, recently I took up knitting.  I sit at home and in the silence just knit.  I do not have the TV on, I do not have music on.  I just sit there and knit.  As an extrovert I would have thought myself crazy.  I'm embracing my introverted side and it's great to learn more about oneself.  Haha!  Why do I enjoy sitting here and blogging and would do it when I'm super tired?  Introvert, for sure!

I know I haven't written in a while and now you guys are being inundated with blogs.  It's just that I've been busy and my extrovert side was getting an exercise and now I'm taking a break from it.  Back to being myself for a bit.

Best always,

Saturday, December 20, 2014

A divided human race

As most of you know, I'm originally from India.  I was born there and I left when I was 10.  I spent the next 6 years of my life in Dubai and now I'm in the US.  I guess, ever since I got to the US at 16, I was asked the one question that eluded everyone here.  "Where are you from?"  As simple as the answer seems, I would be perplexed.  Where was I from?  Should I take the 10 years of my life and my birth place as the answer.  What about Dubai?  I did come from there?  What about the US that I was living in at that moment?  In all honesty, I still struggle with this one.  Home is the US.  The reason I know it, is because my close family is here.  I miss my home when I'm away and so home is the US, but where am I from?

You are probably hitting your forehead at this moment thinking that I'm really stupid.  You may think, that's the dumbest question.  The answer lies in where I was born.  I'm from India.  Am I?  Is that the simple answer.  Deep down I don't want to be Indian, and I don't want to be Arab (from Dubai) and I don't want to be American either.  For me, deep down, I feel these are dividers.  These are markers of judgement.  I want to be a citizen of this world.  This whole world is as much yours and it is mine.  We are all from planet earth.  Do we really need to divide it further?  If an alien invaded us, we would all stand together and state proudly that this was our planet and we were humans and we were from EARTH.  Too bad we have to wait for an alien invasion for our unity.

The reason for this post is not just about the country of origin.  I am very disturbed about judgements based on race and religion.  Let's say that I completely agreed that I was Indian.  Does this mean that as an Indian I would not be divided from another Indian.  Would I find unity by being an Indian?  Not true!  I cannot admit to loving and being "from" a country that is so based on skin color that it makes my own skin crawl with centipedes.  Yes, I was born in India and grew up as an Indian, but in this same country I would be looked at as a "less than" because my skin color was darker than Aishwarya Rai or the other super fair actresses.  My prospects for marriage would also dwindle based on this same issue and within the same country, we would divide ourselves.  So, I could be Indian but still segmented into a "group".  Division.  Isn't it great?  Yes, I'm being sarcastic.

Do we remember when Miss USA's parents were of Indian origin and Miss USA was too dark by Indian standards?  I remember reading articles about how people in India were surprised they picked her!  She wasn't even considered attractive there because she was dark.  This bothers me a lot.  Of course, I've been dark all my life and have had to deal with people making fun of me.  It's horrible.  And I've read articles written by other dark women from India about how they felt.  It's all the same.  I know I'm digressing into an issue of color now, but really it's all about prejudice and judgements towards other human beings.

In the United States, we still have a race issue whether you admit it or not.  It comes from years of slavery and power or stupidity - whichever way you want to take it.  And then there's more.  There's the division due to body type.  If one is obese, they are looked at differently than one who is not.  Forget "obese".  There are body types that may be considered a bit chubby?  Not even close to being fat and yet, people will discriminate and divide based on that.  I hate to admit that in my own family I have members who look at prospective brides or grooms based on color and furthermore, in the side of my American family (my husband is caucasian) there are members who base similar prospectives on body types.  Which form of discrimination is acceptable?  NEITHER.  Discrimination is discrimination.  Period.

When we have these issues on a minor level, what do we have on a major level?  We have races hating races and we have holocasts and wars and religious profiling and eradications and we have a giant big mess.  I do not know how to fix this situation.  It's horrible.  I do feel that the only thing we are in control of is ourselves.  I feel each and every one of us needs to look at the mirror and face our demons and confront our fear and our prejudices the best we can.  This world is headed to doom.  It's really sad.  So, please join me in creating a chain of people who choose to be enlightened.  People who choose to make a difference by making a change in ourselves first.  I'm not perfect.  Not close.  I just want to work towards self-betterment.

Wish you all happy holidays and a wonderful new year ahead.

The jeans conundrum

I have talked about fashion before and how clueless I used to be.  I'm OK now, I think.  Considering that I'm wearing something totally hideous today, I still think I'm alright.  The difference is that, today, I know I'm wearing something hideous.  The funny thing about clothing and fashion is that it's all subjective.  It's all in the eyes of the beholder.  They talk about the 80s coming back.  And if I would have saved all my clothes from that era, I would be rocking it right now.  Then again, when I tried to wear those clothes 10 years ago, I was very much the outsider.

The thing about fashion that has eluded me is its superficiality.  I think I've been anti-fashion since I was a kid.  I felt it wrong to judge someone based on their looks but rather on their merit.  I've also been anti-make-up for the same reason.  Of course, things have changed as I've aged.  Make-up has become my friend and I've rationalized it as an art.  I enjoy the challenge of a look and so I'll think of make-up as an internal personal growth rather than an external superficial cover.

The topic of this blog post is really jeans.  I was in a conversation with my cousin about why jeans was considered as casual wear in the United States.  She stated to me that in Europe, the doctors wore jeans and a white lab coat and it was perfectly acceptable and the US folks would go to Europe and tell the doctors to dress appropriately.  Why?  Why are jeans not acceptable?  When I think of denim, it's a sturdy material.  It takes a beating.  It's perfect for the work environment.  You don't have to worry about special care for your work clothes.  You just throw your jeans in the wash and go.

No!  In the US, it's taboo.  One has to wear silks and wools and things that look good to work.  What is the definition of things that look good?  That's a different topic, but back to jeans.  I could wear a blue navy suit perhaps, or a blue navy pair of pants with a jacket to work.  That would be fine.  However, if I were to wear a dark blue pair of jeans and a matching dark blue jeans jacket, it would be unacceptable.  I'm still trying to figure this out.  I don't even have possible explanations.  The only thought that comes to mind is that jeans have traditionally been worn outside of work in laborious situations and hence people think it's not appropriate for hoity toity types?  I do not know, but I wonder.  So, I post this one out there and have you all help me understand the rational as to why jeans are considered as a casual and non-work type clothing.

Friday, November 28, 2014

PIsac hike - day 3.

 It's funny when you look at pictures a couple of years after the trip and wonder.  I know the first few pictures were from the drive there. Then there are pictures of when we walked up the trail.  It's funny.  I do not mention how tiring the hike was.  I re-read my accounts and all I got was that it was a great view.  Now, a few years later, I remember this hike very clearly.  I remember how tired I was.  This was the hike that made me say no to the hike up Hyuana Picchu the next day.  The views on this hike was SPECTACULAR.  I have even written that a camera cannot do it justice and I think at some point I stopped taking pictures.  What was the point?  There was no way I could capture the intense beauty of the place.  The view I got from the top was something well worth being completely out of breath for.  Of course, why not?  It takes your breath away!

Day started at breakfast and drive to Pisac. In Pisac we hiked for a couple of hours up the mountain to reach the top, which was the priest's place or something like that. The climb and hike was on a trail on the cliff side of the mountain. I could get a good grip and footing, but there were a lot of loose stones too and that seemed scary to me. If I ever focused other than the trail, I could see far out and down and the realization of how high up I was really hit me and I'd be a bit scared because one false move or slip could mean certain death, but the views were amazing and the climb and hike was worth it. When we went up, we were able to climb to another look out point and really appreciate how beautiful the surroundings were. I don't think a camera could do justice to the views. I was quite blown away and glad I requested a trip of the Pisac ruins.

We stopped for lunch and after we got back to Ollantaytambo we walked the streets of the old buildings of the nobilities. Of course, they've been converted into touristy shops etc. but look magnificent from the outside.

Tonight is the festival of the cross here. People come to their altars, which look like in India, tiny places of worship with a model of Mary in it. The people hung a string of bread and fruits on the entrance as a symbol of asking the God to bless them with more of the breads, fruits etc. Basically, asking God to bless them with more prosperity. Then, we had a light dinner. I had taqueras - fried wonton with cheese. Served with fresh guacamole. Was great to eat. Tomorrow Machu Picchu!

A Blog of an idea!

I'm not addicted to Facebook and oh dear!  I'm starting with digressing.  Back to the topic.  A link was shared to my Facebook this morning.  It was a blog ad.  What's a blog ad?  I don't know.  It's a term I created.  I guess for me it means, it's an ad to invite people to blog on a particular blog site.  So, if I were to write a blog and put it on their site, then they get more blogs etc etc and you get the picture.  A blog ad!  But I'm intrigued by this ad.  I love the idea of it.  And this gives me the idea for more similar blogs to save humanity.  Sounds like my think tank idea but we'll get to that one too.

This blog title is "Blog to Feed a Child".  Tell us how you think we can eliminate classroom hunger.  Imagine what India would be like if no child goes hungry and an entire generation is educated!  Blog about it and make a difference with Akshaya Patra and BlogAdda.

I think it's a noble idea.  I wish I was smart enough to think of things.  My thoughts would involve having a kitchen at school and paying someone to cook for the children.  Of course, would involve funds and donations, but that would be a worthy cause.

However, there's a flip side to this I feel.  Education.  What is education?  If you asked me when I was younger than 16, I would say education meant going to school and getting good grades.  Education meant memorizing useless facts and doing whatever it took to make an A (except cheating).  Which leads me to wonder.  Shouldn't part of education involve educating children on what education is and what the purpose of it is?  I know I hated to go to school as a kid.  I didn't see the need for it.  Now that I'm older and I view school as "education" and not a boring prison where you sit and listen to the teachers for hours, school seems very promising.  I guess in relation to the blog ad, I would think while hunger is a cause to solve, so is teaching.  Getting good teachers is crucial also.

I have digressed, kinda, but in all seriousness, that was part of the intended blog.  See, I was part of the American Dental Association Institute for Diversity in Leadership (IDL) and it's a long title for a program that educates people on becoming leaders.  What are leaders made of?  Well, this blog is not about leadership.  Not even close.  I learned some stuff but that's beside the point.  What we had to do with this program is come up with a project.  The aim was to "learn" how to be a leader.  How to start a project and go with it.  I have learned that most ideas at first are shot down.  People look at people with ideas as crazy and dangerous and you need to get past that and go the route to believing in yourself and finding the few who believe in you and will stand by you.

Anyways, so I had several project ideas and there are couple I'm still working on.  One idea is called "The think tank".  I wanted to join a group of diverse individuals to get together to solve a problem.  Any problem.  Problems in school.  Problems in society.  Problems with the environment.  Because I believe everyone has something to offer, but not everyone has everything to offer.  If we pool our resources, we may come up with fascinating prospects.  I watched a Ted talk and heard a plumber come up with an idea for a heart vessel.  The cardiologists weren't thrilled, but the point is that different people have different strengths.  On that note, I must add that children have the most vivid imaginations and craziest solutions.  Some of their ideas may be out there, but sometimes you may run into a kid who can think clearly and focus at the issue at hand and soon you may have a very matter of fact solution that others did not think about.

Anyways, I just think this hunger blog ad I saw was a wonderful idea.  It gets a 'think tank' going because anyone of any walk of life can blog there.  I hope more people start more blogs that are aimed at the betterment of society and a bridge between ignorance and knowledge and bridge towards love, peace and happiness.

It is officially the holiday season as Thanksgiving was yesterday.  So, I'll wish you all a wonderful, safe and happy holiday season.


PS.  Don't do anything I wouldn't do!  Life may seem boring but it's worth it in the end. ;-)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Age Divide

This post is not about the generation gap.  The funny thing is that I don't really know what this post is about.  I think this post has something to do with yesterday's non-indictment.  Bear with me while I muse on the topic of age and humanity in the light of Ferguson.

So, let's go back in time for a bit and then we'll see where we go from there.  I was always an awkward and maladjusted teenager.  I felt like I swayed in the winds of reality vs fantasy, having friends vs being a loner, saying the right thing vs blurting out everything that came to my mind; just plain swaying between the proverbial blacks and the whites.  I don't think I ever considered the grays.  It took me several years, until after my cousins grew up that I started understanding communication, relationships with others, friendships and somehow through them I began learning to process my world.  I always felt behind though.  I always thought they were so much smarter than me.  They knew things and understood things better.  That was that.  That was the truth and I was sticking to it.

And then I'll tie in acting to this blog post, because I can.  I was in a show last year called "Splendor in the Grass".  There were a lot of teens cast in that show and I will say that I never forgot what the director spoke about the first night we all met for rehearsals.  She said something so profound, that my then 41 year old self felt my proverbial light bulb turn on.  It was my "ah ha" moment.  It all made sense.  And it all makes sense now.  She said, and I'll paraphrase here, "I've studied psychology and I learned that the brain doesn't fully develop long term consequence processing skills until the age of 25.  So, when I tell you guys to do something, just trust me on it..."  She went on with other stuff more relevant to the actual play but suddenly there I was.  I felt like a million dollars.  Someone had just handed me the Holy grail, the secret to life, the end all be all, the tesseract, the... the...  Oh!  You get what I mean.  It was liberating.  And I felt my years of life fall into place.  I wasn't stupid all along.  I just hadn't grown up yet.  I just needed to age, like a violin or fine wine.

I will add another quote that I learned from theater here.  Another profound moment for me.  I can't remember the show because I hated it.  I hated the concept, the music and just plain hated everything about it.  And yes, I'm quoting from that awful show.  But I want to preface with my dad and his general philosophy.  He says, "If you learn one thing.  Then it's still worth it!"  Well, so I go through this horrible show and I learn one thing.  "The only reality of childhood are adult consequences."  Yes, it was worth it.

One more thought on this.  A good friend of my husband's mentioned how terrorists are mostly under 22 or something like that!  He suggested TSA (whole another topic for me) do age relevant screenings to be more effective and being easier on the older folks.  And it all ties in and makes sense.

So, now I go back to the age divide and my original thoughts.  I don't know the age of the people doing all the looting and violence in Ferguson.  I know Michael Brown was 18 and robbing a store.  It's tricky.  I don't think we, as adults, truly understand or respect that the folks under the age of 25, just don't get it.  Their form of expression with violence, seems rightful to them.  If you were to be in their shoes, you would do the same.  When my girls at work ask me, "how does all this violence solve anything?  Why can't they be peaceful?"  I give them my lecture on age and understanding of "adult consequences".  And recognition that it takes time in years for children to grow up to teens to grow up to adulthood.  And in that time, there's a lot to be said about their thoughts and processes.  I don't know the age of the Ferguson grand jury, but I sure hope everyone there was over 25.  In my mind, based on my thoughts, if you were to walk a mile in my shoes, I would think the verdict was inaccurate if the jury members were composed of individuals under 25!

I know this post goes all over the place, but at the end of all of this rant is a simple message.  We need to respect everyone.  We need to put ourselves in their shoes and see what the best solution is.  I don't have one.  But I do believe that if we all collectively put our hearts and our minds together, we can solve the issues of our youths and in turn of our future.  As far as Ferguson is concerned.  Same thing really.  As adults we are capable of looking out and seeing the big picture.  We need to use our skills of empathy for the greater good.  We need to learn, respect, understand and move forward to a more productive and peaceful community, society and world in general.

That's it for now,
This is TTR signing off...

Monday, November 24, 2014

Ferguson verdict. Non-indictment of Officer Darren Wilson.

I'm heartbroken.  20 miles from my home, businesses are being looted.  Police cars are set on fire.  There's a Little Caesar's pizza burning to the ground.  When I started this blog, I wasn't going to talk about where I lived, but now you know.  This hits home.  Friends of mine have had contingency plans at their places of work that will go into effect starting 8pm today (when the verdict was announced).  One friend of mine cannot go in to work.  He has to drive to Ohio so he can work there 'til this situation dies down.  Some won't go into work at all.  Lives have changed.  Michael Brown is long gone.

If you know anything about me, you also know that I'm not one to watch TV.  When I have guests visit home, I don't know how to turn on my own TV.  When I got the text that the verdict was coming out in 2 minutes, it took me 5 minutes before I could turn on the TV and get to the right channel.  And then I heard the news.  For someone who doesn't watch the news, I just spent the last 2 hours switching between NBC and CNN.  Switching between one coverage of violence to another.  When President Obama came on TV, the other screen had people throw things that looked like fireworks that smoked.  I texted my friend, "Is that tear gas?"  And her response, "Yea".  Another text from her, "It happened last time like this also."

Perhaps last time I was living under a rock.  How can I continue to live under a rock when the world around me is falling apart and soon my rock will be blown to pieces and I am forced to confront the reality of the situation.  I'm not here to tell you how I feel about this decision.  I'm not here to tell you that I thought he would be indicted or that I thought he wouldn't.  I'm not here to tell you that I wished he was or I wished he wasn't indicted.  I'm stupid.  I'm clueless.  It's by choice.  I live under a rock remember.  But, I come out briefly and watch the news for 2 hours and am in shock.

People with their hands up chanting, "Hands up, don't shoot!  Hands up, don't shoot!"  There is something so haunting about watching that.  I don't know if it's a fair comparison but it felt like watching the people jump off that burning high rise on 9/11.  The thud that you hear when bodies hit the ground.  It's what I felt today watching the destruction of so much.  And the voices in the middle, trying to be heard.  Trying to be peaceful.  This is America.  The land of freedom.  Do we not have freedom of speech?  Can we not peaceably assemble?  Will you not hear us?  Some people here, just want you to listen.  They do not want to loot or destroy, but how can we listen amidst the violence surmounting all around.

I feel like people's tongues have been removed tonight and they haven't gotten the chance to express themselves.  I feel anger has been the only expression that has exploded the senses, the scenes, and also has incited the force of the police.  So, wherever you are or whoever you are, today I'm asking for a prayer.  A prayer for simplicity.  A life of peace.  A world of healing.

Signed in faith for more understanding,

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Restaurants in the big cities

My mind wanders.  Today, while driving, I thought back to a very quaint Thai restaurant my husband, nephew and I went to in Chicago.  It was really a hole in the wall.  We were walking and it was lunch time and being hungry we started scouting restaurants.  Of course, this was Chicago.  We had our choice but we wanted something quick and something non-American and not fancy and we walked past a Thai restaurant that had a lunch menu and so we thought.  Why not?

And in we go.  The place was quite large.  We were seated immediately and we had our waiter ready to take our orders very soon. The place was buzzing.  We didn't want to detain the waiters for long with deciding what to order.  And so, the 3 of us ordered something different.  And the food arrived very soon.  I was surprised.  They must have it pre-made and in stock.  It felt like fast food, from the speed aspect of it.  The taste felt like a preppy sit down restaurant.  I wish I remembered where it was, because I do want to go back.  It was so good.

But then again.  Do I need to go back to that restaurant?  Or do I just need to go back to Chicago?  And I think about Chicago and the big cities.  They have so many amazing restaurants.  And then it hit me.  Maybe I'm just a late bloomer and didn't realize this all along, but a restaurant in the big cities that wasn't providing great food would not really survive.  Or would it?  In places where the choices are limitless, why would anyone waste time on an "average" restaurant.

Funny thing.  I started this post a couple of weeks ago and guess I have just been busy.  And furthermore, where was this post leading, really?  I read a friend's status on Facebook an hour ago.  It said that he was craving Taco Bell, despite living in New York where he had access to any cuisine.  Hmmm.  No, this post was not about the far side grass being greener.  I think I was prompted by this post because I went to a Moroccan restaurant here and wasn't majorly impressed.  I guess, I need to move to the big city if I want to eat like a king (or a queen in my case).  Or restaurants really need to up their game in the suburbs of my midwestern town.

Before I go, I just want to say that I'm thankful this Thanksgiving for all you wonderful readers who keep me motivated and going.  You guys rock. :-)


Acting - breaking legs and more...

About a month ago, I was on a Facebook page for people involved in theatre in my area.  An actor I had worked with a few years ago had posted on it that there was an online magazine or blog or something, that was requesting an article about whether acting was a hobby or a profession for those involved in theatre here.  I cannot speak for the others, but every since I read that post, I've been reevaluating what acting really means to me.  Was it just a hobby?

So, I go back and scrounge through every theatre memory I have had since childhood.  I saw a live performance of Sound of Music in Madras, India when I was 8 or 10 or something like that.  That memory doesn't matter to this story.  Next!  I must say the next memory is somewhat significant to helping me understand my relationship to theatre.

I was 16 in a junior college.  There was a sign posted for auditions.  Snow White!  Oh how I wanted to audition, but I couldn't and I didn't.  Reason number 1:  My dad would kill me.  Not literally.  Let's just say he would have blown a fuse, or had a cow or you get the gist.  Reason number 2:  I do not kiss on stage and if I got cast as Snow White, there is no way I could pull off that last scene.  Don't ask me why as a brown girl with no theatre experience, I thought for some strange reason I could even dream of getting cast as Snow White.  And that was that.  I never gave those auditions a second thought, until this blog, 26 years later!  While I was in the junior college, I got to watch a Midsummer Nights Dream.  I don't recall how I convinced my dad that I wanted to go watch a play.  Must have involved "required" course homework or extra credit for one of my classes.  But that's how it went.  My father would not have let me go otherwise!

Fast forward another 15 years.  I had finished college.  I was a professional in a respectable job.  I had a life, so to say.  And through a tennis friend, I got invited to watch The Cemetery Club.  I guess, you could say that this was the first time I connected with theatre.  I was an adult and understood my interests and had come a long way from the child who followed whatever her dad had said (for the most part).  My friend was performing in this show and I was very moved by it.  It was a very small theatre, almost like a black box.  My friend and the other actors had turned in a phenomenal performance.  I struggled with the concept that a "regular" person could be in a show.  I mean, my friend wasn't famous or a celebrity.  She was someone I played tennis with.  And that's when I thought, "hmmm.  Why can't I act?  If she can do it, why can't I?"

I talked to my friend about it and told her that I was interested.  I don't really recall what she said to me. I think she said that it took a lot of work and that it's not as easy as it looks or something like that.  I think she told me to go to a website and audition to look for parts and the next thing I knew, a few months later, she called me.  She said she was in another play and the director was looking for someone like me.  She gave me the director's phone number.  When I called, the director just gave me the time and date to show up for the reading.  I did not know I was cast.  When the director said, "Next week we will block the play." I thought, "Block?  What the heck is that?  Are we playing with blocks?  How is that pertinent to the play?" and as I wondered my friend came up to me and said, "Blocking is just when they tell you where to go and when.  I'll show you next time."  And that's when I realized I probably was cast!  I can't recall much else.  I think my cast thought I did a great job with my role.  And so started my love for an art that I could not express until then.

I have been cast in several productions since.  And a few years ago, I even got cast with a professional theatre company.  I got paid $50 for that stint.  I would have done it for free.  I met my second husband through theatre and I have even started directing.  I have directed 4 ten minute plays until date and God willing I will direct my first full length play next year.  The funny thing about acting as a hobby or a profession, is that I know the answer.  It's a hobby.  I do not make a living from it.  I have a very good living through my profession and theatre gives me the outlet to express a part of myself I wouldn't otherwise.  I feel I may have an advantage over the "professional" actors.  I truly love theatre and I have nothing to lose.  I'm not in it for money or fame.  I think if I were to act professionally, I may not like it as much.  I may feel it takes away from my sense of freedom or expressing when I want to express, rather than forcing a model on me.

There is one part of acting that deeply hurts me.  The part that I can never connect with my father through it.  I know he hates it.  He doesn't even want to hear me talk about it.  It's this form of expression in me that I feel he refuses to accept or understand.  It's like it doesn't exist to him.  He chooses to turn blind to my choice and that's hard.  A couple of weeks ago, I was talking to my dad about other things and I mentioned, "You know, I'm directing this play and…"  He cut me off.  "I don't want to hear about that. You don't know what you are doing."  At 42, my father feels like I don't know what I'm doing.  C'est la vie!  I guess acting means, breaking legs and hearts.

That's it on this topic, for now.  Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!  Will try to write more soon.


Monday, November 10, 2014

What not to wear!

Disclaimer:  I do not watch much TV and while I've heard about the shows, I have no real experience with much of it.  Well, I am getting into shows like Agents of Shield and Gotham but that's a separate post.  Back to this blog!

So, I'm told there is a television show called "what not to wear."  The premise of the show is basically to revamp a person's closet.  Well, not so simple.  I guess, if someone dresses horribly, her (I don't know if guys are involved in this show or not) friends call the show and "report" their poorly dressing friend.  The show in turn goes through the closet of the poor dresser and trashes EVERYTHING and gives the poor dresser a $5000 check or gift card or something, and of course help to get a new closet.

This is where this blog gets interesting.  Hmmm.  Do I really admit to this?  OK.  Here goes.  My cousins who also happen to be my best friends, came to me one evening and asked for permission to send me to this show.  They did not want to call without consulting with me.  Good move there.  I would have blown a fuse so bad, they will probably never have heard the end of it.  So, they did the proper thing and asked me.  They explained how the show worked.  They explained how I could take some of my favorite clothes and hide them in storage so the people who come to my closet would never know about those.  And I'll be honest.  I was considering this.  Seriously.

I know this show is for the horrible dressers but I did not take offense to my cousin's suggestions.  See, about the time I walked through the halls of my professional school wearing fluorescent orange sweats and proved to be the human highlighter (it was not halloween), my closet was filled with more fun stuff.  I had an all-gold outfit, I used to mix patterns, I wore clothes that were way over sized (I'm XS, and I wore M), I wore the wrong colors, and of course I mismatched colors like wearing blues with blacks or greens.  In other words, I had the fashion sense of a gorilla, putting it mildly.

In professional school, my good friend was honest enough to explain to me that I needed a little help with my clothes and so started the education.  She explained how everyone needed a standard black pair of shoes and a black pair of slacks.  I was trying to get through the basics.  And she helped pick out my clothes and slowly I went from horrible to very bad.

I had some help for my desi clothes from my brother-in-law's wife and so I had reconfigured my desi closet.  My cousins began to get involved with helping me a couple of years later when they noticed the change.  They were surprised I wanted to look half way coordinated.  Of course, for all these years, I looked like the geek and anyways a few years ago a good friend of mine got involved in the project to "save" me.  And I remember clearly my instructions from everyone who went shopping with me:  Do not shop without us!

Even today, I hesitate to shop alone.  I'm nervous that I have an uncanny ability to pick the clothes that look the worst on me.  Recently when I was in Ireland, I purchased a bright red Aran sweater.  I thought to myself then that I was breaking a cardinal rule in shopping, but I had no choice.  My cousins or my friends were not in Ireland with me and my husband has no fashion sense.  I had to make my own decision.

Well, this comes to the conclusion of this story.  This past weekend I was giving the introductory speech for the 10 minute play festival.  It runs 2 weekend on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Well, the first day, I wore a black dress with broad light blue patterned stripes.  Second day, I wore my red Aran sweater and the third day I wore a costume I bought at the renaissance faire (again, without any help from my cousins, but I had some help from the people at the store).  Everyday, I got a lot of compliments from all the actors.  I was shocked they loved the Aran sweater.  That was my crowning glory.  I picked that one out.  I did.  Myself.  With no help!  On day three as I sat in the changing room with the other actors, one of the women actors says to me, "Oh God!  I so want to raid your closet!"

I was very surprised.  I was thinking, "Are you sure?  What's wrong with you?  You have amazing fashion sense, why raid my closet?" and then it hit me.  Maybe, just maybe, my fashion sense has graduated.  Maybe it's not horrible anymore.  Maybe it's not very bad either.  Maybe I'm heading into the zone of "not bad".  Maybe.  For now, I'll take the compliment and fly high until the next time my cousin or friends point out and ask me "who's the brains to this outfit?"  What not to wear?  No thank you.  I've moved on.


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Arab on my street!

I am both disturbed and disappointed with myself for such a title.  It is quite racist really.  Unfortunately, a title like "empathy" may sound boring to some.  Or if I titled this blog "My neighbor."  Would you really be interested in that blog post?  No.  "The Arab" sounds intriguing, scary perhaps?  I've created a mystery blog.  Not really but it could be?  Furthermore, I've mentioned "my street."  Now I'm hitting home.  It's sad I have to give such titles for readership (still quite slim) but c'est la vie.  On with the post.  This was a blog I was thinking about a month ago when I was driving home.

A month ago, I noticed the Arab in passing.  And I'll be honest.  I noticed him there because he was in traditional Arab wear and quite frankly looked a bit out of place in a suburban, mid western, American neighborhood.  I chided myself for thinking that he stood out, but he did.  If he wore American sports gear or shorts or I don't know, maybe I would not have even payed attention.
I guess it's the same story of seeing a dot Indian at your local WalMart or Costco, wearing a sari and talking in a different language, but an Arab raises flags (or so I think).

Well, I should have written this blog then, but I forgot.  Age does that to you.  And as luck would have it, last week, when I was driving home, I saw the same Arab.  This time, I slowed down to try to "see" him.  Why?  I had a blog at stake, of course!  But in all seriousness, I was able to capture his face in my mind.  A face that spoke of nothing more than friendliness and peace, I almost felt like stopping my car and inviting him to my home for dinner someday.  See, the thing is that, when you connect to your own humanity, you can see past stereotypes.  Also, I was schooled in Dubai and I spent 6 years in an Arab country.  They are some of the most friendly and hospitable folks I have come across.  For real!  An Arab should not make my head turn.

And yet, when the Arab wearing a long white cotton gown and a red hounds tooth patterned head covering walked the side walk here in one of the suburban neighborhoods, he caught my eye.  I'm just as human as you and I'm just as brainwashed by the media as you.  And I'm Muslim!  I had to work actively against a media-induced judgmental mind that will convince you to not only be scared but to act.  Why?  Based on a man's clothes?  I've come to realize that media doesn't just give you permission, but teaches you to judge.

Back to my friend.  I choose to call him my friend.  I was very impressed that he established his identity with his clothes.  I'll be honest, I was secretly nervous for him (not of him).  I felt that people will judge him as a terrorist based on his clothes.  I felt that perhaps people may yell obscenities at him.  I wasn't sure.  Wasn't there some homeland security act where people can be arrested for no cause if there's suspected terrorism, without proof?  What stops some idiot, and I mean idiot, to call the police and complain that a man was walking the sidewalk in Arab clothes?  That automatically makes him bad?  But then my mind wandered.  I thought about someone approaching my friend and I smiled.

I could see it.  I could see him smile big and wish his approaching man peace and extend his hands out in a hug.  I could see them say hello to each other and smile and talk about how wonderful the day was for a walk.  I could see them talk about their kids and schools.  I could see my friend invite our caucasian American friend over for dinner.  Wait, my mind urged.  Invite me too, but alas, most importantly, I could see that world.  The world of love and hope.  The world of neighborhoods and friends.  It's possible?  Right?

"Everyone makes judgement based on race."  Avenue Q said it best.  It is true.  But isn't it our human responsibility to treat every human with empathy and respect?  Or am I just dreaming?
Today, as I drive into work, I see him again.  Walking.  My thought, "hmm, he walks both mornings and evenings.  Good for him."

That's it for now,  Best always,

Monday, October 20, 2014

Day 2 of my trip to Peru. Chincero, Moras, Ollantaytambo.

Before I start this blog, my husband asked me to explain who Salman and Boris were.  He said it wasn't clear in the last 2 blog posts.  So, let me explain.  Salman was my travel buddy for the trip.  NO romantic entanglements, in case you are wondering!  And Boris was our tour guide arranged by Adventure Life.  I must say, I'm really glad I'm doing this blog transfer.  Brings back great memories.  And going through all the pictures feel good.  I think to myself, "Oh yeah!  I went there too!"  I hope you all get to travel to Peru some day.  Beautiful country.  Beautiful people.  I won't take much more of this blog.  Go ahead and continue to read my travel journal.

The day started with breakfast. Eggs were normal. There was papaya juice and pineapple juice. Had this interesting cereal called Kiwicha with strawberry yogurt. Was good!

First stop was Chincero. Again, narrow streets and lots of climbing. But before I start Chinceros, on the drive there, I saw upper Cusco City, the poorer population. Their homes are up top mountains and they have to climb their way there. Long narrow steps!

Anyways, in Chinceros we visited a handicraft home. They showed us how they make their scarves. I felt raw wool of sheep and alpaca. Alpaca is much softer. The process is as follows: They take the raw wool and wash it in water and soap. Soap is from the root of a tree that is available 4 hours away. After they wash the wool, they dry it. Then they pull into yarns with their spinning wheels. Then they further strengthen yarns with double yarns spun together. They then die the yarn. They use NATURAL color. For green, they use the leaf of a particular plant and boil in water. For red, they use the blood of a particular parasite that grows on a cactus. They squeeze it and it is red. They use it as a natural 24 hour lipstick. Also they add lime to make color lighter. Some colors, they add salt to change. I think green changed to orange or something drastic. After dying the yarn, they actually weave it together and make patterns. It was very interesting. I went a little shopping crazy. I bought an alpaca sweater, shawl and hats.

Then we visited the Chinceros ruins near the church and the agricultural tables. I hate to journal about it but I needed to use the rest room so badly that I couldn't focus much on the agricultural tables although they were beautiful. I was lucky there was a rest room before heading down the street to the Chinceros market.  I think it was the hypoxia and myself drinking tons of coca tea that lead me to having to use the rest room every hour!  Although I did entertain the possibility that I had suddenly turned diabetic on my trip!

At the Chinceros market, they trade potatoes for vegetables. So local farmers bring their potatoes and are able to take home carrots, corn, tomatoes etc. Very neat system. Saw people drink corn beer. And the market in general was neat.  Oh and don't quote me on this, but they have 100s or more varieties of potatoes in Peru.  It's based on how it's grown and at what altitude.  Every terrace grows a different potato, so potato is the most tradable commodity there.

They recycle everything. They make sandals out of car tires.

I think they use some parts of the car to tie their animals. But market was a neat place.  The concept that nothing is wasted if at all possibly was refreshing coming from a 'disposable culture' as I call our system.  I like the idea that these sandals are not brand names.  They are not even branded by the tires they are made out of.  Their function:  provide protection for your feet while walking.    Makes me realize how superficial we can be here in America.

 Next stop was the circles of Moras. Saw the circles and ruins that were not completely excavated/renovated. And then we head on over to the Moras salt mines.

Here the river flows - 22% salt and they channel it into tables and over time the salt crystals start forming. White salt is for human consumption. Brown salt was for animals.

After salt mines we had lunch. Quinoa was this grain I liked. Had soup with it. Was very good.  OK, don't laugh.  I had quinoa for the first time, in Peru, in 2011.  I've had it several times since but there's something special about eating it there.

And then we reached our hotel in Ollantaytambo. Smaller hotel, but still very cosy. Wifi signal is so low, it's next to impossible to connect from the room.

After freshening up, we visited the ruins of Ollantaytambo.  The climb was steep and difficult.  I was quite out of breath between each table, but it was worth it.  Then on the way back drank some local tea with medicinal properties. It was very good.

Came back to the hotel, chilled. Then headed out to dinner. Soup and chicken/rice. Also I think Salman ordered some chicken pastry. Now, back to the hotel and time to sleep as there is a lot of walking again tomorrow. Did notice the lighting in the room is very poor, but I guess they use the rooms to sleep more than anything else.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Cusco, Peru. Walking tour. Day 1.

7:45am. At airport waiting to board flight to Cusco. Water bottle was allowed. Nice to travel without fluid restrictions.

Since this is a journal, I'm skipping, but I guess I'm talking about Lima before we actually boarded our flight.  Breakfast was good. They had papaya juice and the watermelon was so red and sweet. YUMMY. There was a station where they made fresh eggs with the toppings of your choice. So good. Pancake was dried bread with syrup - interesting. Oh and then I realized the hotel had free wifi - yay to that! :)

And here I am at the airport writing in my actual journal and waiting to board our flight from Lima to Cusco.  The next set of pictures were from that flight trip.

Note: Salman mentioned air smelled like the cross between an ocean and a butcher shop. When I walked out of the hotel, I realized he could not have been more accurate.

I have to say the view from the plane is great but what can you do?  You can't really get amazing shots through 2 panes of the airplane window and the wing of the flight.  You get to see the mountains though.

I don't know when this was taken but must be closer to landing into Cusco.  You can see parts of the city here.

This picture to the left is my favorite from up above, because if you look closely, you'll see the terracing on the mountains.  On our trip we saw a lot of terracing.  That's just how the agriculture works down at Cusco and Machu Picchu.


Views from Lima to Cusco were very pretty. This picture on the left was from the car ride to the hotel.  Hotel is up a very narrow street. Got my first taste of coca tea. What does Coca tea taste like? Hmmm. Salman thinks its a cross between soy rice and something that is delicately sweet. I don't know. Tastes interesting though. Boris picked us up from the airport and went ove
r our plan for the next few days. It's going to be fun and I'm sooo looking forward to it. Glad we added an extra day at Pisac.

CUSCO CITY TOUR - starting at 3pm

After nap, we had light lunch, chicken soup and Boris took us for a walking tour. The streets are cobblestone, very eclectic and narrow. And the buildings on either side are neat - The walls and the ways the huge stone blocks come together. Apparently, the stones were ground down with stones, sandpaper and water to make perfect butt joints.

We visited 2 churches. The first one was clearly demarcated with the break in the Inca culture and the Spanish colonization. Very nice open ground between the walls.  See the picture below.

The second church was quite extravagant. I think Boris said cedar wood was carved and then plaster added to it and smoothed down. And then gold leaves were added and entire arches were gold. Very extravagant. Couldn't get pictures as it wasn't allowed. Boris has an accent and some of it is hard to understand, but it's not bad.

He showed us where to eat tonight and we had pizza. I normally don't care for pizza but this was amazing and really good. Soup was alright. Had fresh fruit juice. That was nice. Salman ordered inca cola and I tried some. It was good too. Next time, I'll order it instead. The internet connection here is VERY SLOW. I was lucky to logon this afternoon. I don't wish to logon just now as I'm journaling. Tomorrow, we're off to the Sacred Valley - day 1 is over.